Belinda van der Merwe from Coronationville opens up about what life was like living with her husband who suffered from bipolar disorder and later discussed the issues t she had to deal with. She was married to Christopher van der Merwe who suffered from bipolar disorder.
“He was diagnosed in his teens with bipolar disorder and all these years he’s been on treatment,” said Belinda.
“I want to know who are the people who are responsible for taking sufferers to the hospital? I mean, these people are strong and they don’t want to go to the hospital. So how do they expect us to get them there?
“When I called the ambulance, they could not transport him to the hospital because he was aggressive. When I called the police, they said it was not their duty, so I really want to know who I was supposed to call?”
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When the communications officer of the Sophiatown police, Jerbes de Bruyn, was contacted for comment, he said that it was not the police’s duty to handle medical situations.
However, when Belinda was going through documents she found a form that was handed to her by an officer at the Sophiatown Police Station.
The form allows Belinda to give the right to the police to take her husband to the hospital. The medical treatment was another bone of contention for her.
According to Belinda, Christopher was a patient at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital but had to move to Helen Joseph Hospital.
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“When he received treatment at Baragwanath, he would receive treatment for about three or more months and his condition would ease for a few years. When he was admitted to Helen Joseph, he would be admitted for a few days and then he’d be discharged. The nurses would say that he was fine and then just discharge him.”
Belinda further explained that her husband came back home and was not well at all, he suffered from mood swings and increasingly aggressive behaviour.
He would often leave home and drive around the city. He once left their vehicle on the highway for three days until the police recovered it. Belinda said that she thought it was because no one visited him that the nurses would discharge.
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In October, Christopher was living with his son in Rabie Ridge, Midrand. He was very sick and was scheduled to be taken for treatment, but upon arrival at the hospital, they were told by nurses that he was not sick and sent home.
“He was sick, we could all see that, but they just let him go and now he’s dead. It’s not fair, my husband is dead and I don’t know what really happened to him,” said Belinda.
On October 26, Belinda found out from her son that her husband had been killed. According to the Midrand police report, Christopher’s cause of death was that he was hit by the Gautrain at the Gautrain Depot Midrand at 5.45 pm.
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“Investigative officer Dolo said that he could only tell me what was written in the report, and added that there were photos. They have never even shown me the video yet. I don’t know what really happened. If he was walking through the station or what, I really don’t know,” explained Belinda.
The officials at the Gautrain Depot found a restraining order against Christopher’s other son in his pocket. It was this letter from the Midrand police which led them to the son.
Belinda said that his son had to identify the body and that was the end of it, she still didn’t know about the accident at that time.
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According to Belinda, it looked as though her husband was just bumped on the left side as his left arm and leg were broken.
“I’m going to the Gautrain head offices because I want to know what happened to this man. Why didn’t they contact me? They have no remorse for people really. I don’t know what happened to my husband, “she said.
Belinda has so many unanswered questions and is willing to go the extra mile to find out what happened and who was responsible for Christopher’s death.